Boxing-008We’re heading for a scrap. Announcing some developments.

A few years ago, before I was about to preach in a church, as is custom, I went into a back room to pray.  No one was in the room apart from an elderly lady.  After telling me that the room was for the preacher, and after explaining that was me, she then said this:-

“God’s just given me a picture.”

I find old women scary.  Old women with a gift of prophecy are frankly terrifying!  After repenting of all my sins, known and unknown I looked her in the eye, resigned to my fate and steadied myself.  This is what she said.

“You are in the woods, in fact you’re running through the woods and you’re scared.   You’re crouched over and carrying a rifle.  You’re running into battle and you’re scared because you think you are on your own.  However, you’re not.  I can see men; thousands of men all emerging from the woods and you are all armed.  Your enemy is waiting for you in a clearing and you are about to be joined in battle.  It’s going to be very tough and painful but you will win.”

With that, she stopped and started to pray for the morning meeting.

As for me, I was left shocked.  It was exactly what I felt and I had been praying hard that we would see a movement of men emerge all over the world that introduce men to Jesus.

The time has come for us to engage in the battle.   That’s our deep conviction at CVM. Over the last few years we have produced resources and run vision casting days for men who are followers of Jesus.  In 2014 onwards we will be taking the fight to the enemy,  right to the heart of his camp.  Men need to know their need for a saviour.  We intend to tell them in huge numbers via our grass roots network, social media, the Internet, resources and gatherings.  We need your prayers and we need a war chest.

Plans include:-

  • Developing a male specific version of an evangelistic website that has so far seen over 5 million people make decisions for Jesus.  This is unprecedented in its scope and scale and is a huge piece of work.  We have global partners for this project which will be an awesome resource for men everywhere
  • An evangelistic tour linked to a website and giveaway resource featuring testimonies captured in a cutting edge media format
  • Advocacy on the issues that numb and blunt the ability of men to share their faith, such as pornography
  • Recruiting and deploying more men’s groups, area coordinators, speakers and leaders

We are determined and focussed – and intend to fight hard.  We need more people giving to our cause.  In fact we need another 400 men to give £20.00 a month.  We have over 8000 men plugged into CVM and just under 700 regular givers.  In order to ramp up the fight we need to build the war chest and keep the supply lines open. Could you help us?  The Internet project alone, which could potentially reach hundreds of thousands of men needs initial funding of over £25,000.  We’re not holding back.  There’s no rehearsal time.  Lets do this.  Lets go! (Matthew 28:19)

Thanks so much for standing shoulder to shoulder with us.

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There’s a wealth of material out there to read and study when it comes to leadership. In fact, we’re drowning in resources. I thought however I would smash down the lessons I’ve particularly and personally learned in 2012. This isn’t hugely thought through either. Its an instinctive list, most of it come to the hard way (by messing up and having to learn from it quickly).

1. As a leader you have to sometimes make tough decisions that will hurt you and hurt others. No matter how hard you try to avoid the latter, its an inevitable consequence of being the leader. The fact that people may get hurt doesn’t make those decisions wrong. If you’re not prepared to face up to that inevitability then perhaps the role isn’t for you. You won’t be the winner of any/many popularity contests…

2. A leader needs to learn to keep his/her dignity in the face of criticism whether public or not. Avoid using your ability to speak out widely to defend yourself or attack critics from the front. If you defend yourself against an unfair critic you are effectively making them your judge. Theres a couple of useful proverbs; A wise person overlooks a critic but a fool speaks too much! Thats not to say that we shouldn’t have our lives spoken into or receive feedback. I’m talking about criticism thats toxic and sub kingdom. Let it wash over the top of your head.

3. You have to learn to accept that not everyone will have all the facts about a decision you’ve made and it maybe right that hardly anyone ever does. You just have to suck up the pain.

4. Anything new or fresh is liable to be criticised.

5. In a ministry context, I’m still learning to believe that God pays for what He orders. Never put money before the vision or the fear of finance will suffocate it.

6. Persistence pays off.

7. Constantly reinforce the values and vision of what your organisation is about.

8. Loyal staff who own the vision you set before them are worth more than their weight in gold. Find ways to reward and praise.

9. A gifted and talented person still may not fit the culture of your organisation. Chose people very carefully and be robust in your selection processes. Find out if they are on the same page as you. Do they have the same values? Are they of good character and willing to be led and make sacrifices for the ministry you are engaged in or is it all on their terms first?

10. Leadership involves constant risks. But as I keep saying, nothing ever happened to someone who didn’t have a go.

Be known in this life for the way you give, not the way you take.
Live generously in word and deed.
If you lend anything, do it as if you will never get back what you lent
Travel lightly through life, holding nothing material too tightly
Only hold tight your family, the people you call “friend”
Your faith in God.

Be known for being a man of justice, not blind to the needs of the world
Be compassionate
Be kind to your fellow man, make mercy and justice your traveling companions
Seek to do what is good, resist evil, never allow hatred of men a root in your life.
Only hate and despise that which imprisons mens hearts
And takes them on a road to hell

Love your family and treasure moments, enjoy friendships
Spend more time with people
Always give people the benefit of the doubt and believe the best
Be prepared to get hurt, walk humbly, live vulnerably
Guard your heart, keep it soft and never let it harden
Or your enemy wins

Work hard but don’t make work your master
Leader or follower you are a servant
Whatever you do, you do before an audience of one
Be diligent, honest, respectful and known as a man who finishes the task
Take criticism well, listen and take advice
Or you’ll fall into error

You’ll one day breathe your last breath
Live life in readiness for the final journey
Keep God close, walk in repentance before Him
Make sure you are at peace with all men
Point others to the place where you are heading
When that time comes, if your heart is right and you are walking with the King
You will receive a faith heroes welcome

Carl Beech 12/12

Is your church a couch potato?

Having led churches, planted churches and worked as a evangelist/strategist supporting churches since the mid 90’s, I’ve started to notice some fairly obvious signs that inform me as to whether a church is a lean mean mission machine or a spiritual couch potato. In a nutshell, is your church more concerned with stuffing its own face than getting out there? Here are some bullet points to chew on;

1) What are people getting hot under the collar and wound up about in church members meetings? Is it stuff like the church building, finances, constitution, budgets? If yes, then it’s a couch potato. By contrast, when was the last time people got wound up in a meeting because not enough people were meeting Jesus or that the needs of the poorest in the community were not being met?

2) How is commitment as a follower of Jesus measured? Is it by attendance at some kind of church meeting or is it whether that person is living for Christ in their daily sphere of influence?

3) What sort of testimonies are shared at the front, if any? Do they speak of living for Jesus in the rough and tumble of everyday living?

3) Who are considered to be the missionaries? If your church has a missionary board that defines mission as “out in some remote place somewhere,” then most likely it’s not educating people or celebrating the fact that they are on mission where they live and work. (Burn those boards and destroy them without mercy).

4) Who does the church pray for and who makes it onto the prayer list? If it’s mostly the clergy and the sick then something’s wrong. If you do make it onto the prayer list because you are speaking at a drop in meeting or daytime bible study but never got prayed for re your working life then that’s a sign that the church is in a bubble. If the church does pray for those in the work place but its normally people in the caring professions, then its defining the more caring professions as “Christian”. What’s that all about? When was the last time the church prayed for van drivers and accountants etc? In other words, is the church asking for and accepting the workforces’ money but hardly ever praying for them?

5) What percentage does your church give to “mission”? Couch potato churches give a strict 10% or under to tick a box. If you argue that your own structures are about mission then do some honest analysis of who the activities are reaching and serving.

6) Who is commissioned and ordained into service for Jesus? The clergy/pastors or everyone wherever they are? Do we commission people whenever there’s a job change or ordain people as Jesus’ ambassadors from the school gate to the factory floor?

7) Does the church employ an evangelism equipper and enabler?

8) What proportion of money is spent on sound and visuals as opposed to local evangelism?

I suppose I’m a fairly typical guy. I love Top Gear, sport and action movies. I love extreme (ish) endurance challenges, prog rock (cant believe I just admitted that) and nothing more than and banter filled evening with my mates. I’m also madly and deeply in love with my wife of 19 years and I totally adore and love to bits my two daughters Emily and Annie who are 12 and very nearly 14.

I also have a sex drive. I’m a red blooded male, so what do you expect? The fact we don’t talk about it much in churches doesn’t mean that we don’t. However, there’s a problem. The world outside the church is highly sexually driven but they do talk about it. In fact, they don’t just talk about it; they flaunt it and get in everyone’s faces. The church by contrast seems powerless to respond and the sexualised culture we have marches on.

There’s a lot I could say but in a few short words I’ll say it as it is:- I’m pretty sick of the porn peddlers. It drives me mad (anger is a very underrated fruit of the spirit). I walk into a newsagent with my two girls and right in their faces are a bunch of lads mags with bare breasted women and smutty headlines. So what’s that saying to my girls? Its saying something like;

“you are objects of sexual gratification for blokes…that’s all your good for.”

And what’s it saying to men? I guess its something like; “this is what drives you…we know what you’re really all about…we know what you really want…and its smut and sleaze”


Time to take a stand I think fellas.

You want to make a difference? Next time you see lads mags in a newsagent at eye line, either turn them all around or scoop ‘em up and place them on the counter and ask them to be displayed more appropriately. Evil persists when good people do nothing. (Edmund Burke).

It’s also time for blokes to start to speak up and put up. We’re not all driven by sleaze. We can flipping love sex but be monogamous and strictly eyes front. We need to start fighting the porn cancer that’s eating at the hearts of men. Watch this space but I feel like a man at war.

As for page 3? It’s become so culturally ingrained we’ve forgotten how demeaning it is for us all. I’m writing this on the day that the Duchess of Cambridge had a picture taken of her topless on holiday whilst in private. It’s a disgrace. Lets show that we want no more part of this. Take 5 minutes and sign this petition. Time to start demonstrating that ‘real men’ don’t do porn.

Carl Beech

The last time I was interviewed by Christian.co.uk, it was the most-read article on their website for weeks on end. This interview was written and first published by Sam Hailes here…

Having seen the head of Christian Vision for Men (CVM) give his seminar at New Wine, I waited patiently as a queue of people formed to speak to Carl. He would later reveal, while making a point about lust being a “primary issue” for men, that every conversation he had was about sexual sin.

After half an hour of Carl counseling and praying for people, we made our way to the speaker’s tent to discuss his vision of seeing a million men come to faith in Jesus.

One Million Men

Carl tells me that according to surveys, 75% of British men are antagonistic when it comes to the gospel. “Which leaves 25% who are not…I think we can take a million of that 25%. I think it’s a God given figure actually. I had a prophetic guy contact me recently who said ‘I don’t think a million is enough, you need to up your game’ which is quite interesting.”

Speaking bluntly throughout our interview, Carl keeps his answers to my questions brief and to the point. He’s just explained CVM’s four levels of evangelism. 500 small groups across the UK and beyond aim to: 1) Befriend other men 2) hold an event with a speaker who shares the gospel 3) organise an all male course further explaining the gospel 4) help people find a male friendly church.

Starting a fight

Next, the subject turns to testosterone.

“I’ve got my testosterone for a reason and since I don’t need to hunt a stag for dinner anymore, I might as well use it for something,” Carl says

“I’m trying to call the guys to get involved in a fight with something that’s noble and good.”

“We’ve been given a fighting spirit so I’m trying to call the guys to get involved in a fight with something that’s noble and good. I’m not talking about bar room brawls but the spiritual equivalent of that.”

“Let’s tackle issues like violence against women, seek to become better husbands and fathers or if we’re single keep our sexual integrity. We’re there to make a profound difference and bring men to Christ. So use your testosterone for good.”

The Code

The 12 point honour code Carl developed has resonated with thousands of men across the UK. What is it about?

“It’s like a new monastic order without the celibacy and we can still have a drink,” he says.

“The idea is you read it, are inspired by it and take action because of it. There’s things like ‘Jesus is my captain brother, rescuer and friend’ which is a declaration of faith and the last one is ‘I’ll never give up because he’ll never give on me’ which is a declaration of grace.”

“There’s stuff like ‘I’ll treat all men and women as brothers and sisters.’ If you do that you’re not going to jack off to porn because she’s a potential sister in Christ.”

“We thought about 12 areas of a man’s life that need to be brought into sharp focus. It took two years to work out 12 statements. Normally I do things in half an hour so that was quite challenging,” he admits.

The Manual
Following on from The Code, Carl has just released a series of short snappy devotions for men called The Manual.

“On the basis that most men’s attention span is short and we like things that are blunt and direct we thought we’d pick on the issues that man are facing. They are 200-300 words long and start with a verse and end with a prayer. The idea is everyday a guy can pick them up, read it and get something out of it. It’s not irrelevant fluffy stuff, it’s real stuff that men are facing.”

Although these devotions are hot off the press, feedback has been rolling in already. “I had one guy saying he’s reading it outside of work with two younger men he’s led to Christ before they walk through the office doors. Crucially what we’ve done is we haven’t dated it, we’ve numbered it. If blokes miss the date they won’t look back at it through guilt but if they are looking at number 13 it doesn’t really matter.”

“It’s not irrelevant fluffy stuff, it’s real stuff that men are facing”

‘Why are there tissues everywhere?!’

Those familiar with Carl and his ministry will be unsurprised to hear him complain about what he calls the “romanticisation” of the Church. His seminar at New Wine included a moment where he kicked a box of tissues across the stage asking, “Why are there tissues everywhere!? Do they think we’re all going to cry or something!?”

It was moments like this that made me compare Carl to the controversial US pastor Mark Driscoll. “Yeah people say that,” he replies when I put this to him. “We’re the same age but I’m not as belligerent as he is. I don’t know. I think I’m my own man.”

CVM’s annual event, The Gathering certainly sounds like an event for manly men. “1500 guys together in a field. We burn stuff, eat stuff and talk to people about Jesus. We sing hymns, we don’t sing romantic songs. We make a lot of noise and it’s great fun. We have sports cars and that kind of stuff, it’s good blokey fun.”

Inflicting intimacy

Carl says the women he speaks to hate the romanticisation of the church too. “There’s a really small group of people who are really heavily into some of the intimacy stuff and I wouldn’t want to take that away from them but I would say is ‘don’t inflict that on the rest of us who don’t get it.’”

“A lot of people think you’ve not achieved this revelation of God if you’re not in that zone. They think you’ve got issues because you can’t say ‘Jesus is my lover’ or ‘He is beautiful’. I say ‘if that means I’ve got issues then I’ll keep them! I like those issues!’”

Amusing throughout our short conversation, Carl isn’t afraid to be direct and make important and weighty points. But he isn’t quite as macho as he sometimes comes across. “I drink warm beer in warm pubs with newspapers,” he says as we finish our conversation.

After thanking him for his time, I get up to leave. “Don’t write anything that will make people hate me too much,” he asks. Smiling I reply, “I’ll do my best!”

During a weekend of speaking and conferencing in London, Dean (CVM Managing Director) and I were heading back on the Northern Line to our hotel, when Dean spotted a woman being forced aggressively against a wall by a man. Our train was in the station with the doors open.  It looked like it was going to get nasty and as Dean got out of his seat I saw the woman try to slap the man in the face to get him away.  He was so close to her and so forceful that she couldn’t get get her hands free properly.  She looked terrified. Not good.

Ironic in the extreme was the fact that we had just finished a men’s day where we had been highlighting the excellent work being done by Restored (a global coalition to provide a Christian response to violence against women).  Peter Grant, one of the co-directors had encouraged the men present to take a stand where necessary against violent men and not stand idly by.

Seconds later we were confronting him.  Shielding the woman we firmly asked him to move away.  At the same time, a platform announcement was made to the man, asking him to “stop harassing the lady.”  However, this guy wasn’t up for stopping.  Turning to me and getting right into my face he told me “@$£% Off” and asked me what I intended to do about it.  Aggressive and threatening is an understatement.

I think you have a choice in these moments;  It was central London and it was late.  You have no idea whats going to happen next. It all happens quickly. You have questions to process instantly. Did he have a knife?  Was he going to go on the offensive?  Its essentially a two choice scenario. You either stand your ground or you step back.  We moved forward and told him firmly, several times whilst locking his gaze to “step back”.

Eventually he did and after a few minutes of standing guard, assistance came and he was led away.

At one point I had turned to the other men on the train and asked if a few others would join us.  I had the thought that if a handful of guys were gathered around, it would pressure him to back down.  No one moved.  No surprise there.

When I developed “The Code” one of the statements (Code X) ended up being, “I will use my strength to protect the weak and stand against the abuse of power.”  In that moment she was in a very weak position and he was the abuser of power.  You can’t sit back.

The lady actually told us, with tears running down her cheeks that she would be ok.  There was a look on her face that somehow told me she had been there before with this guy. I didn’t move untill assistance arrived.

I’m grateful that the train driver refused to move the train until he knew she was ok.  I’m grateful for the announcer.  I’m grateful it didn’t get violent when we stepped in.  It was strengthening to be with Dean, another man of conviction, both of us standing shoulder to shoulder.  It was disappointing to see all those men refusing to move or burying their heads in their newspapers or books, pretending that nothing was happening.

Please check out Restored and The Code.  Also see the movement called First Man Standing we are helping to promote.

I pray the lady was ok.  I hope she leaves that man.  I hope he had a wake up call.  I pray that one day there will be a big enough groundswell so that these incidents become fewer.  I hope that more men will be prepared to confront rather than shrink away.

When I read Luke 4:18 I dont see a passive call to justice.  I see a call to stand in the gap when we need to and take a hit if necessary, even putting yourself in harms way if thats what’s required.  That seems to me, to be a redeemed use of my strength.

Shalom!

 

 

I was present at the birth of both of my daughters.  It was of course an amazing experience and far more exhilarating then the gas and air that I sampled earlier in the labours. (Just checking it was safe of course, much like Nehemiah and the Kings wine).

When both of them were born, I gave them a cuddle within minutes of the birth.  These were on both occasions profound moments. I heard a still small voice that I knew to be the Lords.  I had a distinct sense from God that He was telling me that they were in effect on loan to me. My job was to raise them and to show them Jesus through the conduct of my life and by sharing with them the things that we saw God doing in our lives.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  The kids have heard us row as well as seen us make up.  They’ve seen me get it wrong and they’ve heard me apologise to them.  I’ve prayed with them and at times neglected to do so because I’ve been away or taken my eye off the ball.  I’ve shared the stories of what Jesus has done in my life and heard them beg me to tell them another story…only to go for chunks of time when I have let it slip.  In other words I am doing my best but I get it wrong plenty of times.  One thing I have done is pray for them frequently and for a variety of things, including any future husbands they might meet. (I’ve been praying for that since before they were born!)

As part of our commitment to our kids development spiritually, Karen and I started to lead the Sunday school group they are part of.  (As an aside I really do believe we need more men leading kids work so I’m putting my time where my mouth is).

During one time of preparation for Sunday my eldest sat and read the bible with Karen.  For some reason, this gripped my daughter and she took it upon herself (she is 13) to read a page of the bible every night from Genesis until she finished it.  I tried to show her that there might be a more interesting way to do it (worried of course about lists of skin diseases and laws in Leviticus being a bit boring etc) but shes a single minded kinda kid and she wouldn’t hear any of it.

Several nights ago Karen find her quietly lying on her bed with tears running down her cheeks.  She had just met Jesus despite only reaching Exodus.  The word of God has power to change lives.

My eldest daughter has always been a character; a free thinker, artistic, willing to challenge and not one for the status quo.  Turns out Jesus was well able to work with that, despite my at times prayers of angst.

I share this to encourage you blokes;  Keep praying, keep modelling Jesus, keep your heads, spend time with your kids, let them see you being men of God, take your share in the responsibility you have for pointing beyond yourself to Jesus and remember, despite your fragility and weakness, God is sovereign  and your kids are precious to him too.

 

 

Porn

Nuts, a basically pornographic magazine has seen its circulation fall by 22.5%.  Zoo has fallen by 32.1% and FHM by 19.2%.

Good riddance.  You’re going down fast and I couldn’t be happier.  I’m sick and tired of seeing these “things” on the shelves of our newsagents.  I can feel the anger rising up every time I see magazines like this for sale.  I particularly feel it when I walk into a shop with my daughters.  How dare they inflict this on my girls.  How dare they send out a message that all women are objects of lust.  And how dare they demean me or seek to corrupt me by blasting images into my brain that I don’t want there.

I’ll be brutally honest.  I’m praying that Bauer Media (owner of Zoo, a particularly pathetic title) and IPC Media go bust.  Okay, it will cost people their jobs but I’m a man at war.  Enough is enough.  Its all gone too far and as far as I’m concerned, I’m going to devote a significant amount of energy into trying to cause as much hassle for the publishers as possible.  Let me tell you porn peddlers, theres power in “them grass roots” and a lot of us blokes “ain’t happy”.

By the way, you girls can join in too.  Below this rant is a list of all the titles published by IPC media.  Don’t just moan about it, lets fight it.  If we are serious about the sexualisation of society and truly sick of it all, then lets all stop buying the magazines listed.

In addition theres a campaign taking place to make ‘modesty wraps” a legal requirement.  That means we wont have to put up with the assault on our vision every time we walk into the newsagents.  At least it will help until they go out of business.  Mike Beechams the man behind the campaign and you can sign the petition here; http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/25536

Oh, and a quick message to the cooperative chain of stores.  Show some courtesy and reply to the emails about the campaign.

Don’t buy these titles;

Amateur Gardening

Amateur Photographer

Anglers Mail (magazines)

Bird Keeper (magazines)

Chat (magazines)

Chat – It’s Fate (magazines)

Country Homes & Interiors (magazines)

Country Life (magazines)

Cycle Sport (magazines)

Cycling Weekly (magazines)

Decanter (magazines)

Essentials (magazines)

Eventing (magazines)

The Field (magazines)

4×4 (magazines)

Golf Monthly (magazines)

Volkswagen Golf+ (magazines)

Homes & Gardens (magazines)

Horse (magazines)

Horse and Hound (magazines)

Ideal Home (magazines)

InStyle (magazines)

International Boat Industry (magazines)

Livingetc (magazines)

Look (magazines)

Marie Claire (magazines)

Motor Boat & Yachting (magazines)

Motor Boats Monthly (magazines)

Motor Caravan Magazine (magazines)

Mountain Bike Rider (magazines)

NME (magazines)

Now (magazines)

Nuts (magazines)

Pick Me Up (magazines)

Practical Boat Owner (magazines)

Rugby World (magazines)

Shoot Monthly (magazines)

The Shooting Gazette (magazines)

Shooting Times (magazines)

Soaplife (magazines)

Sporting Gun (magazines)

Teen Now (magazines)

Total Golf (magazines)

TV & Satellite Week (magazines)

TV Easy (magazines)

TV Times (magazines)

25 Beautiful Gardens (magazines)

25 Beautiful Homes (magazines)

25 Beautiful Kitchens (magazines)

Uncut (magazines)

Uncut DVD (magazines)

VolksWorld (magazines)

Wallpaper* (magazines)

Wedding (magazines)

What Digital Camera (magazines)

What’s On TV (magazines)

Woman (magazines)

Woman and Home (magazines)

Woman’s Own (magazines)

Woman’s Weekly (magazines)

Woman’s Weekly Fiction (magazines)

World Soccer (magazines)

Yachting Monthly (magazines)

Yachting World (magazines)

People love big events.  You get a buzz,  big sound, big names, big crowd…you leave feeling ready to take on the world.  I’ve got nothing against a big event or a mega church.  Both are great for a preach! I just dont think its where the real revolutionary work happens.

Revolution power is in the grass roots.  It always has been.

Last year CVM (Christian Vision for Men) saw its network run at least 4.5k outreach events, that communicated Jesus to tens of thousands of men.  We reached even more through podcasts, magazines and all sorts of creative endeavours. Because we don’t hold it in a stadium or over an event weekend, no ones seen us coming.  We don’t shout about it that often either…

Yeah sure we run big events but we hold them in regions.  We must have seen thousands of men at regional events last year. But no ones seen us coming because we keep it grass roots and regional and only shout about it in the area its happening.

We’ve managed to establish bases from Belfast to Cambodia with another 4 nations scheduled in for the next 24 months.  But no ones seen it coming…you get the drift.

And it’s not just the organisation I lead.  In the grass roots there are radical revolutionaries quietly getting on with it who you have never heard of and probably will never hear from, unless you are in their orbit.

Is that a very British Kingdom revolution?  No it’s just the Kingdom way…and its the most effective.  Crucially it doesn’t require someone to be the biggest gorilla in the room.